This Amazonian Hatchet Thing

Hachette vs. Amazon, a Capitalism Throwdown.

Dear Jeff Bezos and Amazon,

I got your letter about how greedy Hachette is — how it’s just this huge corporation looking out for its own financial well-being and far too willing to use propaganda to further its own self-interests. You sure hit the nail on the head there, Jeff. Seems like more and more corporations do that in this capitalist economy.

That said, I have a few nits to pick.

ONE, for a book-seller turned book-publisher turned book-everything, you sure don’t seem to know much about the advent and popularization of paperback books. That’s a little odd to me, because more than a few books have been written on the subject, and your letter makes it sound like you’re just a reader like me. (Well, except for you being worth an estimated $30 billion and me being worth, well, a bit less.)

An Amazonian with a Hatchet

An Amazonian with a hatchet illustrating cheap pulp fiction. Oh the irony.

TWO, as the founder of a huge corporation dwarfing Hachette that makes no secret of tracking and monetizing every scrap of data it can cajole out of its customers, you ought to have someone on staff who knows that bringing Orwell into this argument is not terribly smart.

Amazon PrimeAir

You just know that the real Big Brother would have a smiling logo.

THREE, you might also want to have someone on staff who can look up the full context of that Orwell quote you decided to bring up. Then you’d know it is a bit more nuanced than your propaganda implies.

Orwell 1984 Quotes

You know the drill.

FOUR, as the leader of a massively Orwellian corporation attempting to monopolize the world’s cultural output, you might try looking up a word in one of the thousands of dictionaries you sell. You’ll need to order the dictionary, of course, because those warehouses of yours aren’t exactly conducive to browsing, but in two days (I know you have Amazon Prime, Jeff) you’ll be able to open it up and read what the word “rhyme” means. Then you, too, can join me in staring at the sentence “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” — trying to figure out what the hell it means.

Your friend in reading,
Michael Livingston

[PS: In case anyone was wondering, I’m not so much calling for Hachette to win this round of hostile negotiations as I am calling for both sides to stop the silly pretense that they are engaging in this fight for any other reason beyond the goal of making more money for themselves. That’s simple capitalism, and that’s okay. Just be honest about it. Amazon in particular is trying to use a Hammer of Righteousness here, dragging everyone it can reach into the scrum of an engagement that frankly looks more and more desperate for it. Sure, maybe this tactic will work for them. But in the interest of critical thinking I hope not. Win on merits, Amazon, not on misinformation.]

[PPS: Also, Jeff, I’d be happy to help straighten out your PR people with an overview of Orwell, the definition of “rhyme,” and a quick refresher on critical thinking. Should only take a day or so. As a genuine English professor, I will charge only a reasonable 1/365th of your annual earnings. We can call the experience the “Livingston Fire.”]

One Comment

  1. Oh, if only I believed your intended audience could begin to grasp the depth of your wit and wisdom. 🙂

    Well done, sir.

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